Arsenal may not be the most prominent English club in recent times, but they certainly have not had any shortage of world-class footballers over the years. The Gunners did try their best to keep their players from moving to rivals, but a lack of silverware has triggered some controversial departures.
Here are the top five Arsenal players who have moved directly to a rival outfit since the commencement of the Premier League era (1992-present):
Special mention: Ray Kennedy transferred from Arsenal to Liverpool in 1974 and won a combined total of 18 trophies at the two clubs.
However, since he was transferred long before the Premier League era kicked off, we have kept him off our main list.
#5 Kolo Toure – Manchester City
Former Ivory Coast centre-back Kolo Toure was a force of nature on the football pitch. He was strong, surprisingly quick, and had the lung capacity of two grown men. Toure was not exactly a man of finesse, but Arsenal benefitted from the diversity he brought to the team.
The Gunners got Toure on their books in 2002, signing him for €185000 from ASEC Mimosas. Toure started his Arsenal career as a right-back and defensive midfielder, but Arsene Wenger was quick to shift him to his preferred position.
He was a first-choice centre-back for Arsenal in the 2003-04 season and helped the Gunners to an unbeaten Premier League title.
Toure won the FA Cup in 2004-05 and helped Arsenal to the 2005-06 Champions League final. He joined Manchester City in 2009, with City paying €18.5m for his services.
He won the 2011-12 Premier League title with the current league champions.
#4 Samir Nasri – Manchester City
Under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal brought and developed some truly spectacular footballers. Samir Nasri, who was on Wenger’s radar since the 2004 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, was one such player.
Nasri, who had generated a lot of fanfare at Marseille, signed for the Gunners in 2008 for €16m. The young midfielder counted on Wenger to get first-team opportunities and the legendary manager did not disappoint.
Nasri got the opportunity to make a mark and he did so by scoring on his Premier League debut.
Unfortunately, the rest of his Arsenal career was not as memorable as his debut. He suffered multiple injuries over the course of his spell at Arsenal, forcing him to sit out many crucial matches.
Having registered 27 goals and 16 assists for the Gunners, Nasri signed for Manchester City in August 2011.
The Frenchman won two Premier League titles, a League Cup and the FA Community Shield with Manchester City.